Archive for February, 2011

Cirrhosis symptoms may develop gradually and in some cases no symptoms will be noticed, but when symptoms of cirrhosis do occur they can include a range of health problems from indigestion to confusion and impotence. This article shares what cirrhosis is, what causes it and how you can treat the disease to prevent further health complications.

Cirrhosis is defined as a chronic disease of the liver that leads to scarring and decreased function or failure of the liver.

Cirrhosis Symptoms And Causes

Early symptoms are not always present but when they are they may include:

  • Abdominal indigestion or pain
  • Enlarged liver that may be felt in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss

If the condition goes undetected or untreated additional symptoms may occur including:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Dark urine
  • Visible blood vessels under the skin that resemble spiders (spider angiomas)
  • Nose bleeds or bleeding gums
  • Hair loss
  • Swelling in legs and abdomen
  • Bowel movements that may contain blood, be loose or discolored (i.e. dark, pale or clay-colored)
  • Increased bleeding or bruising
  • Impotence, loss of interest in sex and breast development in men (gynecomastia)
  • Confusion or problem solving difficulties

Cirrhosis is an inflammation of the liver that is typically caused by long-term abuse of alcohol or Hepatitis C infection.

Other causes include autoimmune inflammation of the liver, disorders involving the drainage system of the liver (the billiary system) such as primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, Hepatitis B, medications, metabolic disorders of iron and copper (i.e. hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or exposure to chemicals.

Cirrhosis Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis may be initiated by the observation of the aforementioned symptoms by a person with the disease. If symptoms are noticed, a consultation with a medical doctor is necessary. To form a proper diagnosis a physical examination will be performed, which may include analysis of blood for the presence of anemia, clotting problems or low serum albumin.

 

Additional test of the urine or imaging test such as x-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), or Ultrasound of the abdomen may be performed. A biopsy of the liver can confirm the presence of cirrhosis.

Treatment includes making changes to one’s lifestyle, including avoiding alcohol if it was a causative factor in the disease and eating a nutritious diet that is low in salt. A physician may prescribe iron supplements to counter the increase in bleeding, diuretics may be prescribed to reduce swelling, and antibiotics may be used if an infection is present.

Damage already suffered by the liver cannot be reversed but early detection can stop the progression of the disease. If the disease is allowed to progress a procedure called transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) may be necessary to help blood flow more efficiently in your liver, stomach, esophagus and intestines, and then back to your heart. If cirrhosis progresses to end-stage liver disease, a liver transplant may be necessary.

The concept of life has come across a colossal shift with the emergence of HIV testing in the arena of medicine. It has truly been a big challenge for the medical specialists to find a means to counter this disease. It has till date proved to the disease that has spelled death for any individual who has been affected by it. The treatment for this terminal disease has not yet been discovered. Therefore the only way to stop this death agent is to be careful enough and try and prevent the infection from spreading. The HIV testing acts like a marker that signals the imminent danger in case it has already arrived. The HIV testing does not give the individual the assurance of a fresh lease of life however it does warn the individual regarding the stage of the disease in which it has been detected.

The HIV testing is required to detect whether an individual is HIV positive or not. The different ways by which the HIV virus gets transmitted are as follows:

  1. The first way that an individual may be exposed to the virus is through that of unsafe physical communion.
  2. The second way an individual may be exposed to the virus is that of an infected syringe. This is in fact one of the primary reasons why the syringe once used is immediately disposed off.
  3. The third way could be the transmission from the infected mother to the baby in the womb.
  4. The fourth way could be that of the transfusion of infected blood. It is one of the precise reasons why any blood that has been donated for the purpose of transfusion is checked well to ensure that no such virus is existent in the sample.

The HIV testing is therefore done not only for detection but also for precautionary measures.

The various reasons as to why an individual should opt for HIV testing are as below:

  • An early detection of the disease enhances the life expectancy of the individual. The modern medications help to delay the imminent end as much as is possible in case of a timely detection.
  • Since the HIV virus targets the immune system of an individual, therefore an early detection can in the least slow down the pace of the virus if not eliminate the disease completely.
  • Moreover if an individual is aware of the infection then he or she can at least take the adequate measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Moreover an early detection can with the aid of required medicine, prevent the disease from being transmitted from the mother to the unborn baby.

Therefore the HIV testing can actually stop the transmission in certain cases if the detection occurs at the right time.

The different ways of HIV testing are namely the enzyme linked immunoassay or the ELISA and the Western Blot test. Once both the HIV testing results turn out to be positive it can be said without a shadow of doubt that the individual has been affected by the virus.

The HIV testing can sometime show a negative result even if the individual has been affected by the virus. The reason of it being so is that the detection depends on the HIV antibody produced by the body. It is therefore advised that one conduct the HIV testing at regular intervals and not become complacent with just one report.

Alcohol-induced hepatitis occurs when the liver becomes inflamed due to alcohol consumption. Alcohol-induced hepatitis, which may also be called alcoholic hepatitis, should not be confused with cirrhosis of the liver because they’re not exactly the same thing. But alcoholic hepatitis is considered to be an early stage of alcoholic liver disease.

Not all heavy drinkers get alcohol-induced hepatitis. On the other hand, sometimes people who drink moderately are afflicted.

It’s possible to recover from alcoholic hepatitis if you stop drinking. But once you have it, continued use of alcohol greatly increases your risk for cirrhosis and then liver failure. Once your liver fails, your only chance for survival is a liver transplant.

Researchers haven’t been able to determine exactly why alcohol consumption can lead to hepatitis, but they’ve isolated some possibilities. They know that when you drink alcohol, certain toxic substances are produced in your liver. These substances trigger irritation, which results in inflammation. This irritation destroys liver cells, causing healthy tissue to replaced by scar tissue. This scarring process is the very definition of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the last stage of alcoholic liver disease.

It’s also still a mystery why some heavy alcohol users never develop alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis, while some moderate drinkers do. This fact leads researchers to theorize that other factors besides the use of alcohol may influence who gets the disease.

Heredity could play a role too. Mutations affecting metabolism could be one of the reasons for the selective nature of the disorder.

If you already have liver trouble, and you drink, it appears you have a higher risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis. This is especially true if you have hemochromotosis, a disease in which too much iron accumulates in the body.

Malnutrition may be another factor that influences who gets alcohol-induced hepatitis. Heavy drinkers often have poor dietary and nutritional habits, and may even substitute alcohol for food sometimes. Toxic byproducts in alcohol limit the digestive processes. Once again, this could result in damage to liver cells.

As with many other liver problems, there are no symptoms in the early stages of alcohol-induced hepatitis. But as the disease gets worse, symptoms become more prominent.

Symptoms vary but often include:

  • abdominal pain and tenderness
  • abnormal thirst and a dry mouth
  • ascites, or fluid accumulation in the abdominal area
  • lapses of memory and cognitive problems mixed with confusion
  • occasional fevers and vomiting, sometimes with blood
  • unusual fatigue, weakness and dizziness
  • weight gain despite a lack of appetite
  • paleness or yellowish skin and eyes that could be indicate jaundice

Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis are likely to get worse if you consume a lot of alcohol in a short time, or indulge in binge drinking.

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible because alcohol-induced hepatitis may lead to a variety of dangerous medical conditions, including gastrointestinal bleeding.

Chondromalacia patella symptoms present as a pain felt in the front of the knee and a grating or grinding sensation when the knee is flexed. Chondromalacia patella is caused by abnormal wear on the cartilage under the kneecap (patella). This condition generally affects teens and young adults. This article will look at the distinguishing characteristics of the disorder so you can form and early medical symptom diagnosis and be better prepared for a consultation with your doctor.

Chondromalacia Patella Symptoms And Causes

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain that is felt under the kneecap (front of the knee)
  • Knee pain that increases when walking up steps or sitting with the knees bent in a cramped space for long periods (“movie sign”)
  • Grating or grinding sensation when the knee is flexed or bent
  • Crunching sound (crepitus) when the knee joint is moved through a normal range of motion
  • Some cases may experience stiffness, swelling, tenderness, or buckling of the knee

Chondromalacia patella occurs most often in teenagers and young adults and is more common in females. The condition may be caused by an abnormal pull of the quadriceps muscles (thigh muscles) on the kneecap which results in the kneecap being pulled out of its normal groove and becoming irritated.

Risk factors that may increase the risk of developing chondromalacia patella include:

  • an abnormal positioning of the kneecap;
  • tightness or weakness of the thigh muscles;
  • overuse from activities such as running, jumping or twisting, skiing or playing soccer;
  • flat feet;
  • previous injury or trauma to the kneecap.

Chondromalacia Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis will be based on the observation of the aforementioned symptoms and an evaluated by a physician. The evaluation should include a physical examination complete with orthopedic tests and possibly x-rays (typically normal) or an arthroscopic examination (visual examination of the knee joint using a scope).

Treatment includes resting the involved knee. Ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin may be used to relieve pain following activity that stresses the knee.

Physical therapy to balance the quadriceps and hamstring muscles may be helpful. Taping to realign the kneecap or wearing a brace that has an opening over the kneecap may help control the movement of the kneecap and diminish symptoms. Orthotics (specially fitted shoe inserts) may add support especially for those with flat feet.

If the conservative treatment options mentioned above do not relieve the symptoms or there are signs of arthritis developing, surgery may be an option. This may involve arthroscopic surgery (surgery using a camera inserted through a small opening).

The prognosis is good and the condition usually improves with therapy and the use of NSAIDS. If surgery is required, this is often successful.

Oxidative stress doesn’t really sound all that bad, but in truth, it’s a killer. The proof of that statement can be found in the fact that oxidative stress is involved in conditions and diseases that include Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, myocardial infarction (a heart attack that prevents blocks the blood supply to a part of the heart muscle causing it to die) and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Oxidative stress is associated with an increase of reactive oxidative species, better known as oxy-radicals, peroxides and free radicals and/or a significant decrease in the capability of the body’s antioxidant defense systems. These antioxidant defenses include the natural production and presence of glutathione.

When your body loses the ability to effectively protect itself- at a cellular level- from free radicals and peroxides by having a sufficient and effective supply of antioxidants to neutralize them, the resulting condition is oxidative stress.

Reactive oxidative species have several sources – both internally produced and externally introduced.

Externally, free radical damage is the result of toxins and pathogens in our bodies, pollution, cigarette smoke, chemotherapy, radiation, UV damage, stress and the list goes on.

Internally, free radicals are a normal by-product of metabolizing oxygen. Something we do in every cell all the time. Our own immune system creates and deploys free radicals to attack targeted invaders and toxins. This is a normal process and normally, we can also marshal the necessary antioxidants to scavenge these otherwise damaging by-products. But factors like aging interfere with our normal ability to fend off oxidative stress and as the damage accumulates, our defenses are further weakened.

Oxidative stress and the damage caused by free radicals in also responsible for damage to our DNA. There is an ongoing process of DNA repair that occurs in both the nucleus and mitochondria organelles of each cell. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is often subject to a highly oxidative environment and without an adequate supply of antioxidants, the DNA can be either damaged or mutated.

Oxidative stress has been strongly linked to aging and according to the Free Radical Theory of Aging it is the accumulated debris of damaged cells caused by the unchecked action of free radicals that degrades our different organ systems and hastens their death. A good example of the damage caused to cells and cellular DNA by oxidative damage can be readily found in the skin of people who have been chronically overexposed to UV rays.

The list of symptoms of free radical damage goes on, but one that many people can relate to is the ongoing or long-term pain suffered as a result of chronic inflammation. Antioxidants play a key role in the prevention of chronic inflammation by reducing oxidative damage.

Completely explaining the connections between inflammation, aging, pain, DNA damage and repair, oxidative stress, our metabolism and antioxidants is well beyond the scope of this article. But there is a basic connection between our ability to prevent oxidative stress and the prevention of many degenerative and often painful conditions that we have taken for granted are connected with aging. Well aside from the damage we do through our bad diets, stressful lifestyles and ongoing exposure to toxins, there is a connection with aging. Our production of natural antioxidants and agents that nourish our ability to properly repair damaged DNA does slow down significantly with the passing of the years.

It’s that time of year: the weather is freezing cold, work is insanely busy, and everyone in your office sounds like they have walking pneumonia. But you’ve got a major presentation (or report or initiative) coming up, and you can’t afford to get sick. You can’t barricade yourself in your apartment, so how can you stay healthy?

Follow these tips to make it out of this cold and flu season alive.

  • Boost Your Immune System

If you’re not sick yet, you’ll want to focus on activities that boost your immune system, your body’s natural defense against cold and flues. Get plenty of exercise (which has been shown to boost immune response), eat lots of fruits and vegetables (to make sure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs), and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. The stronger your immune system is, the better your body will be able to fend off any cold and flu viruses it comes into contact with.

  • Get a Flu Shot

If you haven’t had one already, go get a flu shot. They’re available at most drug stores, health clinics, and your doctor’s office, and may be covered by your insurance. The flu shot will protect you from the flu virus that medical experts view as being the most nasty for that particular cold and flu season.

  • Keep Your Hands Clean

At work, it’s likely you shake a lot of hands. Wash your hands regularly and keep a jar of hand sanitizer on your desk to use after meetings, using the restroom, using the cafeteria, or after being anywhere else you’ve touched things other people have touched. The ethyl alcohol in hand sanitizer can kill any germs you come into contact with and help prevent their spread. It may sound a little obsessive, but being vigilant during cold and season can make a huge difference in your health.

You may also want to wipe down your equipment – telephone, computer, keyboard headset-with rubbing alcohol periodically also, especially if you share these devices with others, as they can spread cold and flu viruses.

  • Take Echinacea

If you start to feel a cold coming on, you may want to head to your nearest health food store. According to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, taking Echinacea (an herbal supplement) may help alleviate cold symptoms while they’re in their earliest stages. An added bonus? Echinacea won’t make you feel groggy or fuzz-headed like your typical over-the-counter medicines.

What is the appendix? Essentially, it is a small “bag-like” item inside of the large intestine, which sometimes increases in size. It is a vestigial organ, meaning that it at one point served a purpose but basically is left over from evolution. It usually doesn’t cause any problems but there are times when its opening point is closed due to a large amount of bowel material. Because of this bowel material, there can be bacteria which cause even more complicated and harmful effects. Due to this, the appendix may become inflamed and as a result, the patient feels a great pain in his abdomen. This condition is called appendicitis.

Generally, anyone can be affected, but the most frequently affected are those who are between the ages of 10 and 30. Extremely young children and very old people are far less likely to experience appendicitis. However, most you children that experience the pain from it cannot handle it because it is far too severe for them. The pain can last for 8 to 12 hours, but may persist longer in some cases. Generally, the final cure is surgery. If someone is prescribed medicine in order to decrease the pain, it often only works for a short period of time and then wears off afterwards. Once the effects of the medicine wear off, the pain starts again. Often, the pain is very sharp and extremely noticeable.

Symptoms of appendicitis may include, but are not limited to:

  • The pain starts from the upper stomach part and it starts to move to the lower stomach.
  • Pain lasts for 8 to 12 hours, and may continue even longer.
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Fever

Home Treatment:

  • You may be confusing appendicitis with some other issue. Perhaps you simply over-ate or had something which upset your stomach. Wait it out to see if there is sharp pain which persists for 8 or more hours.
  • If you experience many of the symptoms, including, but not limited to fever, vomiting, decrease of appetite, constipation, and sharp pain, then definitely don’t wait to head over to the hospital. Visit the doctor as soon as possible in order to prevent future problems.
  • Do not take any medicine that is anti-constipation as this may cause the rupture of the appendix, making the issue likely to become even more complicated.
  • Also, pain killers are not advised because they generally do not help the situation at all. In fact, they may worsen it altogether.
  • Visit a doctor if you suspect that you have appendicitis.

When you are having a feeling that the surrounding around you is moving, then this is the sign of vertigo. Positional vertigo is the most common form of vertigo. Also known as benign vertigo, it may occur with or without nausea. This disorder attack occurs mainly during early morning hours. Positional vertigo occurs when the person moves the head in different positions while doing any work.

This is the most common form and can hit people of any age group. But there is a high possibility that people in their sixties and seventies are more prone to this disease. Generally people feel this problem on the movement of their head. While tying their shoe laces, looking upward and downward people generally faces Vertigo.

Ignoring the symptoms of vertigo is not advisable. As the age increases the symptoms of vertigo attacks increases. Also known as benign positional vertigo, this is not life threatening but may give birth to a life threatening situation when you can suddenly fall causing serious injury.

There are various causes of positional vertigo. Dietary issues are one of the main reasons of this disorder. Other causes of benign vertigo are vestibular neuritis and meniere’s disease. Vestibular migraine also causes benign vertigo in people of higher age group.

Benign positional vertigo is caused by the movement of calcium crystals present in the ears. Basically muscles in the inner part of ears are responsible for the balance of the body. When the fluid inside the ears moves these crystals also moves thus causing this balancing disorder.

Some of the major symptoms of positional vertigo are nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Light headiness and improper movement of eyes is another major symptom of benign vertigo.

Positional vertigo can be easily cured and lots of effective cures are present for benign vertigo. People prefer natural remedies to treat vertigo. But in advanced stages of vertigo we should consult our doctor and get the proper treatment otherwise vertigo may lead to migraine problem.

Some of the natural remedies for benign vertigo are Ginger, strawberries, amla, black pepper etc. Ginger helps in controlling the blood pressure. It soothes the flow of blood to our brain thus helping in fighting vertigo. Strawberry is very rich in vitamin C and this is very helpful in curing benign vertigo. Amla Is also a rich source of vitamin C. Amla mixed with black pepper powder when taken with water helps in effective cure of benign vertigo.

Drugs and surgery are other form of treatment which can be used to treat vertigo. Also always take drugs after consulting your doctor and never ignore any sign and symptom of benign positional vertigo.

The chances are that every single one of us has suffered from the runny nose at one point or the other during our long lives. This also means that we might be familiar with the different remedies for runny nose. This is such a common condition that it has become almost hackneyed in its outlook and the general public will have a myriad of ideas as to what to do when the person starts suffering from the condition. Some of these ideas will be workable while others will be nothing more than old wives tales. No matter how well the person has been trained, there is always room to learn more about the remedies for flowing nose. Children in particular are susceptible to the evil charms of the runny nose and therefore it is important that they get treatment and assistance at the earliest opportunity. This is the responsibility of the parent or the person that is caring for the child during this period.

Drinking a lot of fluids will mean that the person has a better chance of recovery. It has been found that drinking fluids will help the people that are getting exhausted by the constant change in the outlook of their flowing nose. Added to this will be the remedy that recommends fruit as a possible means of getting the patient out of the critical stage of the flowing nose. The combination of honey and lime is both sweet and sour but it can bring a new perspective to the remedies for runny nose. When we are talking about young children, such sweet remedies are known to be particularly effective because they will not reject them on the grounds of having an unpleasant taste.

  • Ginger tea is a favorite of people because it tends to loosen up the clogged nostrils and gives the person relief.
  • Gum and methanol steam have been suggested as possible home remedies for flowing nose. The methanol steam is particularly effective for the people that feel a little bit feverish when they have the flowing nose.

However the person must first make sure of the fact that they are not allergic to the substance or they might be in for a very painful cure. There are so many products on the market that there is a genuine concern that some of them are not up to scratch.

Make sure to talk to a doctor before you proceed.

Although sleep disorders are common, the exact cause of delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is not known. However, most of the symptoms of sleeping disorders occur at adolescence. It has been established that up to 16% of adolescents have sleeping disorders. This makes it to be among the common disorders.

Delayed sleep phase syndrome is when a persons sleep schedule somewhat flipped. People with DSPS tend to fall asleep right around when the sun is rising and have a hard time waking up in the morning. A lot of the time, this sleeping problem is thought of as insomnia or just bad sleeping habits.

Researchers assume that delayed sleep phase syndrome could be a reaction to a shift in the internal biological clock that occurs to adolescents after you reach puberty. However, the reaction that leads to such severe sleeping syndrome is considered to be exaggerated.

It is important for those who deal with teenagers who have DSPS is to understand that this behavior is not deliberate. This is only because of the reaction which often occurs at adolescence. Kids who have a hard time sleeping at night and waking up in the morning are often misdiagnosed. These, however can be sings of sleep phase syndrome.

  • DSPS is usually caused by psychological problems that can cause physical symptoms which interfere with sleeping patterns. The problems make the nervous system unable to control the sleeping mechanism of the body. The waking mechanism is also affected.
  • Feeding habits can cause DSPS if an individual is consuming food that is causing an allergic reaction. An allergy can also be caused from poisoning that is brought about by toxins like organic compounds or heavy metals. Other environmental factors might also make the surroundings unfavorable for some individuals in terms of sleeping. This includes smell, smoke or noise.
  • There are other people who cannot sleep before taking certain substances such as sleep medication. The habit may go on for a long time and the body turns the substance to a stimulant that induces sleep. If the individual stops taking the substance it will become impossible to sleep. This is why a person should be caring when taking certain medication. They may become dependent on it.
  • Alcohol could also be a cause of delayed sleep phase syndrome although many people assume that this is a substance that induces sleep. This is because those who consume liquor in excess fall asleep fast. Some even pass out. However, excess consumption of alcohol on a regular basis will lead to development of sleeping disorders.

To prevent alcohol from making you to develop sleeping disorders you should stop making it part of every meal that you consume. You should also keep off drinking 3 hours before sleeping.

  • Ill health is also a contributor of DSPS. People who have heart, kidney and gastric problems are more prone to sleeping disorders. The same problem manifests itself on those people who experience severe indigestion or have high blood pressure.